“I am a landscape and environmental photographer at heart but have a strong love for the work of the surrealists and have made conceptual projects within the style.”
Francesca Solloway (born in 1992) is an emerging photographer from England currently doing a BA Hons in photography at Southampton Solent University (UK).
“Photography is my way of capturing what is important to me and connecting to the world around me.”
Interview with Francesca Solloway
Francesca Solloway, why did you become a photographer?
I started photography through painting and art while at school. However I didn’t connect with painting, it wasn’t until we were asked to take photos as observational studies to painting from that I found I connected far more with taking pictures.
There are many ways of becoming a photographer. Some are self-taught, some attend workshops. You decided to study photography and make a BA. What is it that the university has taught you and that otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to learn?
I chose to study photography as part of my A levels while trying other things such as Graphic Design. I decided that after my two years of learning technique and taking simple pictures that I wanted to learn more about contemporary photography.
I feel that studying at this level has taught me about how photography, in an art sense works and how to understand that what you show people affects them in very different ways, it has taught me a better understanding of photography as an art form, as opposed to just snapping the odd picture here and there.
What was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
I think all shoots have been memorable in their own way, you learn something new every time you do a shoot whether that be learning from mistakes or learning from a shoot that went well.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography for me is my way of communicating my feelings about different subjects, as well as showing people the ways in which I see the world.
Is there anything in particular that you want to say with your pictures? And in other words: What is it at all that a photograph can say?
There is always something to say and talking through images can be a hard task, however I think that a lot of the time I look to share emotions through work, or tell a story or even a journey. A photograph can say whatever you want it to say, but others may sometimes read it differently to you, inputting their feelings and experiences into what they see.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
There are so many photographers that interest me and inspire me, but I would have to say that Ansel Adams would have been my first and biggest inspiration while studying photography in the early days, the clarity of his images and the landscapes he captured were ahead of their time in a sense and this is what drew me to them.
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“In my view you cannot claim to have seen something until you have photographed it.”
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
I would have to say that my work would fall under landscape photography and fine art.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language?
Making sure that you keep looking for inspiration and always shoot your ideas. If they don’t work out then keep going, even if you need to try something that is out of your comfort zone.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually? What kind of post-production do you do?
In terms if my photographic projects I would say that I swing from two very different ends of the spectrum. I am a landscape and environmental photographer at heart but have a strong love for the work of the surrealists and have made conceptual projects within the style. However I enjoy trying as many different areas as possible to enrich my photography practice.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
Patience, you are not always going to capture exactly what you visualize in your mind, you need to stay determined to find a way to express what you are feeling.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I draw inspiration for all kinds of places; I feel that it is important to not just look at photography but look at many other areas for example design, painting and literature. The world around you should also be an inspiration to any ones work and this is where much of my own work stems from.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I use a variation of different formats, from 35mm to digital, but I would have to say that shooting 120 photographic film has been my favorite on the Mamiya RB67.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
Much of my time is spent looking at other photographers work, but my favorite website would have to be urbanautica.
What photography book would you recommend?
I strongly recommend that every one reads about the theory of photography or not as the case has been for me, there are some books that just really inspire you to go out and shoot.
However if I was to recommend just the one it would have to be “The Photograph” by Graham Clarke. I found that the book covered all areas of photography in detail and gave a good understanding of how photography can be read and viewed.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a photographer?
My advice to anyone interested in becoming a photographer would be to keep shooting what you love but don’t be afraid to push boundaries and step out of your comfort zone. Keep going even if you feel that people don’t like what you have shot, express what you feel how you see fit.
Where do you see yourself in five years from now? What are your goals as a photographer and artist?
I would say that in 5 years from now I would like to have exhibited work as well as traveled. I feel that travel can really enrich your photographic experiences as well as inspire you further.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Q: Has there been a favorite series of work that you have made?
A: I have enjoyed all the projects so far that I have worked on as all have taught me new skills and have been very unique. However I would have to say that my favorite would have to have been Utopian Nightmares, for the pure fact that the project took so many twists and turns throughout shooting, that once I had done my last shoot I felt very for filled and achieved. Despite getting caught out in some awful winter weather.